Clematis is a flowering creeping plant that has been known for its beautiful appearance and sweet scent. It is popularized as a garden flower vine with more than 250 subspecies under the genus Clematis. Some of them are natural subspecies, and some others are hybrid cultivars.
Clematis Varieties and Characteristics
Generally, there are three types of Clematis according to its blooming period: early-flowering, summer-flowering, and late-autumn flowering clematis. Each of them has similar characteristics, with several differences in the appearance such as its flower, vine diameter, and height.
Some Clematis may grow up to 6 meters, while others may only reach 1 meter. The flower shapes are also distinctive, ranging from star-shaped, bell-shaped, frilly doubles, saucer-shaped, and tubular petals. With varieties of colors of deep purple, burgundy, red, white, pink, lavender, and yellow, you have a lot of Clematis to choose from.
Popular flower names in the Clematis genus are Clematis jackmanii which is a hybrid, Clematis virginiana with its oblong-shaped flowers, Clematis montana that has small pinkish wheel-shaped flowers, and Clematis terniflora or well-known as the autumn Clematis.
Here is further information on the flowering period groups:
Group 1: Early-Flowering Clematis
Some of the famous varieties in this group are the pinkish Clematis alpina, the purple Clematis macropetala, and the white Clematis montana. The C. macropetala has large bell-shaped flowers, while the C. montana has large saucer-shaped flowers. Early-flowering means that the flower blooms in early spring. Most of the varieties have large flowers and are not suitable for pruning.
Group 2: Summer-Flowering Clematis
This group blooms in early to mid-summer and may regrow until late summer. One of the famous varieties from this summer-flowering clematis is the Clematis crystal fountain. It has saucer-shaped flowers doubled with frills on top of the petals. It has violet-blue color with a hint of green. This showy variety needs to be pruned once the flower buds appear.
Group 3: Late-Autumn Flowering Clematis
This group of Clematis blooms in summer and early of autumn. Each of the subspecies in this group has different characteristics. There is the Clematis ‘gravetye beauty’ which has a medium-sized, open bell-shaped, rich crimson flowers. It may bloom all the way to early winter. However, this variety needs heavy pruning to keep them growing. Other varieties in this group may be smaller with star-shaped flowers such as Clematis terniflora.
Growing and Caring for Clematis flower
Though growing Clematis can be considered easy, there are some tricks in the Clematis care, especially in pruning. Clematis pruning basically varies according to its flowering period. The closer the bloom time with winter, the heavier you have to prune the dead leaves near the flower buds.
The plant needs at least 6 hours of sunlight every day. However, some varieties like “nellie mosser” and “henryii” also grow well under light shade. The best way to treat the plant is to keep the leaves under the sun, and the roots shaded.
Clematis flower is a creeping plant which means that the vines may grow far from the root. This is why in growing Clematis, you’d need moist and well-drained soil. Make sure that the soil is also slightly alkaline and fertilized with compost or organic fertilizer. Acidic soil may be treated with wood ash or limestone to alkalize it.
Most of the varieties need a whole year to be established. To make the process faster, water weekly to make sure that the plant blooms in time. You can check the humidity of the soil by poking right through it to decide whether the tree needs more water or not. If the soil does not stick to your finger, it means that the soil is too dry for the tree.
The best time to fertilize Clematis is in early spring. Mix compost and granular organic fertilizer onto the soil surrounding the plant. On the growing season, repeat the fertilizer by using a water-soluble organic one.
Supporting the Climb
Though most of the Clematis vines are born to creep, you need to provide support to give it room to grow in the right direction. Naturally, the leaf stems would wrap around rod-shaped figures like a trellis, fishing line, wire, or fence.
In most cases, the vine would stop growing when it can’t find something to hold on to. The ideal diameter of the rod should be less than half of an inch. It is possible for you to direct the growing vine and tie it loosely to keep it growing in place.
Since it climbs depending on the support, it is also possible to direct the plant into shape. You may want to create a Clematis gate, make it cover the whole length of a fence, and even let it climb onto a particular object made of steel rods.
Clematis pruning would depend much on the group. Here is the brief information about the details:
Group 1 Pruning
This early-flowering clematis needs little to no pruning because it grows on old wood. Letting the wood stem to be matured would actually encourage new flower buds. A bit of trimming before May can be done to keep the vines aesthetically suitable for the garden layout.
Group 2 Pruning
In February, the Clematis vine of this group may appear to have browning part along with dead leaves. Prune at least 30 centimeters of the vines and don’t be too hard on it. Group 2 only requires moderate pruning as it will immediately grow flower buds in March. Most of the varieties in this group may bloom twice after moderate pruning.
Group 3 Pruning
The Clematis in this group tends to bloom vigorously in early autumn before it reaches winter. It prefers to blossom on fresh and new wood. Thus, a hard pruning technique should be applied to keep the plant in shape and the flower growing healthily.
Most Clematis flower sold in planting shops has already labeled with its group name. It would definitely make it easier to choose which Clematis varieties to choose besides considering its beautiful and distinctive petals shape.